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Chargers Roster Breakdowns, 90-in-90: S Dexter McCoil

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Day 33 of 90 in 90. Dexter McCoil was a fan favourite last year, so let's take a look at the person behind the player.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Diego Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Player Factfile:

Name: Dexter McCoil

Age: 25

Position: S

College: Tulsa

NFL games played: 16

Games played for the Chargers: 16

Fun fact: Dexter McCoil is the only player on the roster to have experience playing professional football in Los Angeles - he was briefly a member of the Los Angeles Kiss of the Arena Football League.

Dexter McCoil was born in Metairie, Louisiana, and enjoyed a very successful three years as part of the Lutcher High football team. McCoil was good enough - and big enough at 6’4 - to play both ways, as a TE on offense and an OLB/S on defense. Jarvis Landry was a teammate of McCoil’s, and having two future NFL players on one High School team was too much to handle for most opposing schools, with Lutcher High winning two State Championships in McCoil’s three years there.

(McCoil would also excel in the Long Jump and Triple Jump at High School - to this day, McCoil still has the fourth best Long Jump and third best Triple Jump in Lutcher High history.)

Despite being part of two State Championship winning teams, despite having 343 tackles and six interceptions throughout those three years, and despite being 6’4 with clear athletic gifts, McCoil was only considered a two star recruit by the major recruiting sites. Scout.com had him ranked as the 97th best WILL LB, while Rivals didn’t even consider him deserving of a ranking at either LB or S.

The two star McCoil would eventually commit to Tulsa, a small school (their total enrolment in 2014 was just 4,682 people) but one with a good football program that’s produced two NFL Hall of Famers (Bob St Clair and Steve Largent) as well as Dallas Cowboys WR and excellent trash talker Drew Pearson, who has a place in the Cowboys Ring of Honor.

McCoil played in all 12 games as a True Freshman, starting six of them at FS, and made the Conference-USA All-Freshman team, having 84 total tackles and the first interception of his career. McCoil would go on to be a ballhawk in the truest sense of the word, intercepting six passes in his Sophomore year, six more in his Junior year, and five in his Senior year, giving him 18 for his Tulsa career - the most in Tulsa history.

Standing at 6’4 with natural ball skills, you’d have thought that McCoil would have been a lock to be drafted. He didn’t have a great combine, though; 4.63 is an okay 40 yard dash time, but you’d ideally like your FS to be a little faster, and his vertical jump of 28 1/2’ is disappointing for somebody of his size. The real downfall was his bench press - McCoil was able to put up just 6 reps of 225 lbs, adding fuel to the fire with regards to concerns about his strength and the ability to take on blockers in the NFL. As a comparison, not a single safety this year bench pressed single figures, and only two CBs did.

McCoil went undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. He was given a chance to participate in the Oakland Raiders rookie minicamp - his favourite team growing up - but didn’t get a contract offer. He went back to Tulsa, working as a janitor in a gym for a few months until in January 2014, the Los Angeles KISS contacted him about playing for them in the Arena Football League. He lasted five games before getting cut.

McCoil drove from Los Angeles all the way back to Louisiana, undoubtedly thinking at multiple points during the 26 hour, 1,783 mile drive that he’d reached the end of the road. And he had. His car broke down in Houston.

McCoil had heard about a CFL tryout in Atlanta, though, and so took the bus to Louisiana (another 275 miles) so that he could borrow his stepdad’s car, and McCoil went off with a friend to make the drive up to Atlanta - a 562 mile drive.

Talk about chasing the dream.

McCoil arrived at 3 AM, and was able to stand out enough from the other 400 or so participants to earn a contract with the Edmonton Eskimos - two days before training camp. When McCoil got there, it soon became clear that chasing the dream had been worth it. I could quote his stats, but they don’t do justice in telling just how dominant McCoil was in the CFL. He was playing WILL LB rather than Safety, and he absolutely tore the roof off the place. McCoil was named to the CFL All-Star team in 2014 and won the ‘Most Outstanding Rookie’ award that year, and in 2015 would be named a CFL West All-Star, helping lead the Eskimos to the Grey Cup, their first since 2005.

The Eskimos (after a bit of a contractual dispute) let McCoil leave to pursue NFL opportunities after the 2015 season, with a two year contract waiting for him if he was unsuccessful. He signed with the Chargers, who moved him back to safety. McCoil was quickly turning heads at Training Camp and followed that up in Preseason, having a hand in two turnovers and essentially forcing his way onto the roster.

McCoil played in all 16 games last year, starting two of them. The best way I could describe his performance would be ‘okay.’ He had ups and downs, but deserved more playing time than he got (how Adrian Phillips was starting over McCoil I do not know) and probably wasn’t used as effectively as he could have been. McCoil is a guy who can do a bit of everything, and with his experience at LB should have been used as a box safety a lot more than he was.

He’s still only 25, and one of the players I’m most excited to see this year. I think he’s probably close to a lock to making the roster, and he deserves to be. McCoil has the size, the range and the instincts, and if things go right he could end up being one of the better safeties on the team.

McCoil was once a part of the Los Angeles KISS, an Arena Football League team owned by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley from the legendary rock band Kiss. The KISS were aimed at giving LA a Professional football team, which means they folded when the Rams and Chargers came to town. They’d previously decided that McCoil wasn’t good enough to play in the Arena Football League, and cut him after just five games. It’s three years later, and McCoil now plays for the NFL team that made the KISS utterly irrelevant, and defunct.

It’s nice when things tie together in life.